In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Family Values.

Tomorrow, a Canadian horror flick by the name of Torment hits DVD and Video on Demand.

Shortly after Cory (Robin Dunne) arrives at his cottage home with his son Liam (Peter DaCuhna) and new wife Sarah (Katharine Isabelle), they are set upon by a group of masked invaders.

While it is true that there are countless home invasion thrillers with masked antagonists out there, Torment does what it does well. It was similar in structure to one of my favourite thrillers Ils, but also possessed traits of its domestic counterpart The Strangers, as well as The Hills Have Eyes. The trailer does make it seem a little torture porn-y, but I found Torment distinguished itself from that by not lingering on the gore. It tried to focus, and succeeded to some degree, more on the visceral.

My main draw – and emotional investment – was, of course, Katharine Isabelle. I've always loved her wiry energy, and am glad she's making a comeback of sorts after her turn as the title character in American Mary a few years ago. She never really went away, mind you, but after seemingly being relegated to TV one-offs and small parts in direct-to-video fare like Dark Days and Rampage, she is back with a vengeance. With regular roles in Being Human & Hannibal, and half a dozen other projects on the go, the future looks bright. Isabelle was great in Torment and showed a more intense range than we're used to seeing.

Robin Dunne & Katharine Isabelle in Torment.

I liked the look of this film, as well. The family home location and the surrounding forest were a production designer's dream. I read that there were some lighting problems, so director Jordan Barker had to use the darkness to his advantage – one scene in particular in the cellar was very well crafted. That's what they call a “happy accident”, folks.

Another plus was with it clocking in at just under eighty minutes, Torment possesses very little fat. Again much like the aforementioned Ils, it spends just the right amount of time establishing the characters and then gets right to it. The “tormentors” motivations were just enough to be passable, and for every stupid decision our protagonists made, there was also a good one. That's a pretty good ratio by horror movie standards.

It will be tough for Torment not to get lost in the glut of similar-looking titles, but if you are sifting though your VOD menus this week – or should it someday reach Netflix – give it a shot. It's gritty, brisk and, perhaps most importantly, homegrown.

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